pull it together
Reader’s Theater is a highly engaging and motivating reading strategy that promotes connected text fluency — reading aloud with expression and confidence. Unlike traditional theater performances, reader’s theater does not require costumes, props or memorization. Reading aloud from a script, readers use only their voices, facial expressions and gestures to interpret the emotions, attitudes and motives of characters. Instead of acting out the scenes as in a play, the performer’s goal is to read a script aloud effectively, enabling the audience to visualize the action.
Repeated reading of scripts is the key component of reader’s theater. Repetition first builds word-level automaticity, which then allows readers to focus on oral reading expression. Students are more likely to reread if they know they will be performing a reading for an audience.
- Locate/Choose a script that is appropriate in content and difficulty for the readers.
- Model expressive reading of the script.
- Assign reading parts. Try choral reading and echo reading to boost reading confidence before asking individuals to read on their own.
- Ask students to read and reread to practice expression.
- Practice the basics of performing (i.e., speaking loudly and clearly so the audience can hear and not worrying about small mistakes).
- Perform for an audience!
Tips for Implementing Readers Theater:
- Model expressive reading.
- Introduce Readers Theater using pre-prepared scripts. Students need to grasp the concept of Readers Theater and become familiar with the format of a script before writing their own.
- Give the students lots of time to prepare. Emphasize practice and rereading. Practice roles in different ways: individually and in small groups, privately and in front of others.
- Rehearse with the readers, providing needed direction and support regarding their interpretation, pacing, expression, volume, positions and motions.
- Teach the basic steps of performance: how to use highlighters to mark the parts, how to interpret the part and read expressively, how to hold the script, and when to assume various stage positions.
- Begin with short presentations.
- Perform for an audience as often as possible.
- Use props sparingly.
Extension: Writing Readers Theater Scripts:
Once confidence is built using fully developed scripts, students might begin adapting and even writing their own scripts. The power of Readers Theater is greatly increased when kids create their own scripts — in doing so they are integrating reading, writing and thinking skills. In the process of breaking down a story to turn it into a simple script, students learn about fundamental aspects of literature, such as character, plot, setting and structure.
When creating a script, students should first choose a story they like, or a section of a book that takes about five minutes to read. Stories are best suited for adaptation when they are rich in dialogue and have well-defined, exciting characters. A compelling storyline, a tale that "flows" along at a steady pace, action and conflict make a story a good possibility for Readers Theater.
English Language Learners: Fluency is an important issue for students who are English-language learners. Research indicates that fluency can be improved with repeated readings, such as during Readers Theater.
- 2Key Terms
- 3Literacy Diagram
- 4Literacy: A Cornerstone of College and Career Readiness
- 5Literacy Skills Develop Over Time
- 6“Texts” Come in All Shapes and Sizes
- 7Literacy: An Evolving Set of Skills
- 8Oral Language and the Reading Connection
- 9Unlocking Meaning: Vocabulary is the Key
- 10The Vocabulary Gap
- 11How Do Reading Skills Develop?
- 12How Do We Become Good Readers?
- 13Five Components of Reading
- 14Phonemic Awareness
- 19Comprehension — Putting the Pieces Together
- 20Developmental Stages of Reading
- 21Stage 1 — Visual Cue Word Recognition
- 22Stage 2 — Phonetic Cue Word Recognition
- 23Stage 3 — Controlled Word Recognition
- 24Stage 4 — Automatic Word Recognition
- 25Stage 5 — Strategic Reading
- 26Stage 6 — Proficient Adult Reading
- 27How’s My Reading?
- 28The Power of Writing!
- 29How Writing Skills Develop
- 30Why Literacy Is Important
- 31Preventing Summer Learning Loss
- 32Literacy Everywhere
- 33Deepen Your Understanding
- 34Listen to Students Read Aloud
- 35The Value of Good Questions
- 36Motivation — A Key to Promoting Positive Reading Behaviors
- 37Literacy Skills Affect Future Success and Civic Participation
- 38Learn More Library
- 41Check for Understanding